Congress Pushing for Changes to Federal Marijuana Research Policy


An unusual syndicate of Congressional forces, including some who remain staunchly opposed to the legalization of marijuana, will march up to the steps of the Capitol later this week to introduce a historical piece of legislation aimed at reevaluating the federal government’s antiquated policies on cannabis research. The goal of this bipartisan movement is to make it easier for the scientific community to study the therapeutic benefits of marijuana, which has already been legalized for medical use in over half the nation.

A recent report from the Santa Cruz Sentinel indicates that Representative Sam Farr of Washington, along with a band of cronies, including Congressmen Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, H. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, and Maryland’s Andy Harris — the man who will forever go down in infamy as the lawmaker who prevented the District of Columbia from engaging in retail pot sales — plans to introduced “The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016” to the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure “policy decisions about the role of medical marijuana are based on science and facts instead of rhetoric.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this proposal is that it comes with the support of Representative Harris, a lawmaker often considered one of Washington D.C.’s most die-hard opponents to the issue of marijuana legalization. However, Harris, a former physician at John Hopkins Hospital, says he has come forward to in support of the bill because the nation finally needs to get to the bottom of what marijuana is good for and what its isn’t.

“As a physician who has conducted (National Institutes of Health) sponsored research, I can’t stress enough how critical this legislation is to the scientific community,” Harris said in a statement. “Our drug policy was never intended to act as an impediment to conducting legitimate medical research. We need empirical scientific evidence to clearly determine whether marijuana has medicinal benefits and, if so, how it would be used most effectively. This legislation is crucial to that effort because it removes the unnecessary administrative barriers that deter qualified researchers from rigorously studying medical marijuana.”

Although all of the details of the bill have not yet been revealed, it appears to go for the throat of three primary issues that have prevented researchers from truly exploring the magnificent wonders of the cannabis plant. A piece from The Washington Post suggests that the bill would force the federal government to allow more growers than the University of Mississippi to supply research marijuana. It would also eliminate the red tape currently involved with the application process, as well as force the Justice Department to approve all research requests as long as they appear to be in the interest of the public.

A Senate version of the bill will also be introduced this week by Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii and cosponsors that include Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Although a growing number of states have legalized the leaf for medicinal purposes, the federal government still maintains that marijuana — a Schedule I controlled substance — has no known medicinal benefit. Congressional lawmakers believe the time has come for Uncle Sam to get serious about revamping its research policies so the nation can understand the truth about cannabis medicine.

“Despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, federal policy is blocking science. It’s outrageous,” Representative Blumenauer said in a statement. “We owe it to patients and their families to allow for the research physicians need to understand marijuana’s benefits and risks and determine proper use and dosage. The federal government should get out of the way to allow for this long overdue research.”

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